News and Tribune

December 14, 2013

Indiana State Police warn about scammers threatening arrests

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Indiana State Police are currently warning Hoosiers of a telephone scam taking place across the state.

ISP Sgt. Trent Smith, of the Bremen ISP post, said Thursday that the scammers, posing as law enforcement, are calling people at their homes and places of work and telling them a warrant will be issued for their arrest, if they do not make a payment using Moneypak, a money transfer business similar to Western Union.

Smith said the scammers are using the Internet to gather information on their targets, and using that information to make themselves seem more credible on the phone.

He said the scammers will ask the victims if they are late on any payments or have had any past run-ins with law enforcement to instill fear and, hopefully, convince the targets an arrest warrant could be pending.

“The scammer typically threatens to arrest the victim if they don’t pay the fines for some fabricated crime or debt,” Smith said. “To make matters worse the crooks often have some personal information about the victim, which make them seem more legitimate.”

Smith said the scammers have been located in California, Washington and Washington, D.C. He said by using disposable cell phones, they are more easily able to evade law enforcement.

He said if people think they have been contacted by a scammer, they should hang up the phone immediately and contact their local law enforcement agency to find out if the call was legitimate.

“Most likely, if you hang up, they scammer won’t call back,” Smith said, adding that possibly hundreds of calls are being made a day, and the scammer is looking to “hook” only a few individuals.

He said the scam doesn’t even makes sense, as virtually no law enforcement agency makes telephone calls on legitimate warrants, but “these guys are pretty slick and know just enough to make themselves sound official.”